Thursday, February 26, 2009


Who doesn't love getting in bed and snuggling under a couple of warm blankets on a cold winter night? Blankets were the mainstay of colonial beds. When linen sheets were not available, blankets were used instead as "woolen sheets".

Traditionally, blankets were woven in two panels with a center seam and finished with tiny overcast stitches. They were hemmed with a 1/4 inch, narrow roll. The weaves were either tabby, plain, a diagonal twill weave or a bird's-eye twill weave comprised of concentric diamonds. They may bear the owner's initials cross- stitched in a corner.

Early on the natural cream color seems to have been the most common. Later in the 18th century they were used under a checkered or embroidered top blanket. Over time the cream color mellows and develops an almost tactile patina. Cream colored blankets are my favorite. They are the basic component of any blanket collection.

Natural dyes were used in the 18th century. They included indigo for blue, madder for reddish brown to red and wood shavings from butternut bark for tans and browns and shavings from maple bark for cinnamon brown. These early colors were used to dye wool which was woven in a plain or a twill weave. Blankets were woven with a checked, cross-line, windowpane or plaid design. The cross-line and windowpane designs were woven in a plain weave that used less dyed wool and had a larger area of white. They were usually woven of all wool but occasionally had cotton warps and cross-lines. The early plaids often had a hem-stitched fringe at one end and a regular hem on the other end. Blankets with a deep indigo, a warm nut brown or a mellow mustard check, window-pane or plaid add dimension and interest to your blanket collection.

Blankets are so versatile. Whether you stack them on a blanket chest or in a cupboard, fold them over a rack, hang them from a peg or better yet use them to dress a rope bed, collecting blankets is fun and affordable. Blankets are functional, decorative and a piece of history you are preserving for future generations.

Welcome to The Powdered Wigs!

Here is where I'll share my love of history, knowledge and passion for antiques with you and hopefully you can share with me your collections, historic interest and we'll both continue to learn about a way of life from long ago.

As the owner of Donna Finegan Antiques, my speciality is predominantly early American clothing and accessories from the late 18th century to the mid 19th century. In addition I offer a wide selection of painted smalls, homespun textiles, sewing items and early dolls. I also carry good, country painted furniture.

Twenty five years ago starting out strictly as a collector, my collection soon became a way of life. Acquiring a house full of wonderful furniture and smalls, I felt something was missing. I decided I was lacking the personal element such as clothing, textiles and accessories. Homespun, dresses and petticoats augment a collection of furniture. They add depth, texture, color and familiarity to a room. Hence I made the leap to textiles and clothing.

I consider myself a custodian of these pieces. You never really own them: you are just a caretaker, preserving them for the next generation. My passion and love for furniture, smalls, textiles and clothing, coupled with the philosophy of preserving them for the next generation, led me to open my business fifteen years ago. I exhibit at a number of quality antique shows and I also work out of my home by appointment only.

Thanks for taking the time to stop for a moment and read and learn and share with me. I'm so looking forward to your comments, please always include what you collect. So here we go!